Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mali: Secretary-General condemns beating of Mali’s interim president

beating of Mali’s interim President Dioncounda
Armed conflict in northern Mali has forced thousands to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Niger. Photo: OCHA/Nicole Lawrence

UN - 22 May 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned today an attack against Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traoré, which reportedly left the leader with head injuries.

“The Secretary-General urges the Malian military and security institutions to fulfil their primary function of protecting the State and its legitimate interim authorities, and underscores the need for those responsible for the attack to be held accountable,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

According to media reports, President Traoré was beaten up yesterday by protesters who occupied the presidential palace for several hours during a street demonstration in the capital, Bamako. The protest was reportedly called by local politicians who wanted a return to power of the leaders of a military coup in March.

On 22 March, elements of the Malian armed forces announced the dissolution of the Government led by President Amadou Toumani Toure – a move which led to condemnation from the Secretary-General and the Security Council, amongst others.

Mr. Ban’s spokesperson noted that the attack followed intense mediation efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aimed at restoring constitutional order in Mali.

“The Secretary-General urges all actors in Mali to refrain from any actions that may undermine the transitional process and further endanger peace and stability in the country,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson added.

The ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council met in Côte d’Ivoire, on 19 May, to consider the issue of Mali. According to media reports, the ministers attending the meeting and the coup leaders agreed on measures to address the West African country’s current political developments and help bring about a return to constitutional rule there – the measures included that Mr. Traoré would be in power, as interim President, for 12 months.

Apart from Mali’s political situation, the country has also experienced renewed fighting in northern Mali, between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, which has uprooted more than 200,000 people since January, with the majority seeking safety in neighbouring countries and some 93,000 believed to be internally displaced.